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ISM shield to prevent cave-ins

Indian School of Mines has unveiled a 900-tonne safety device that prevents mine cave-ins, a product of three years of research undertaken by a group of faculty members.

The equipment, Self Advancing Mobile Goaf Edge Support (SAGES), developed under a Rs 1.92 crore research project funded by Coal India, has been undergoing field trials at a BCCL mine in Bastacola.

The machine is equipped with two sets of crawlers that enable it to move within an underground mine at a slow speed of 500 metre per hour. It is used to replace coal pillars from underground mines in order to extract coal embedded in them.

Mining is carried out across various coal seams (layers) using the “board and pillar method”. After a particular seam is mined, a significant amount of coal remains untapped in pillars.

These pillars need to be removed, hitherto replaced by pillars made of steel or timber and reinforced by sand beds. But replacement of coal pillars is prone to risk as the replacements may give way.

The new machine, which will make this operation far more safer, was unveiled on Friday by A.K. Debnath, CMD of Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited (CMPDIL), at a function at ISM in the presence of its director D. C. Panigrahi and IIT-Bombay dean (academics) P.C. Pandey.

Among the others present were ISM faculty members professor U.K. Singh and associated professor Dhiraj Kumar, who helped develop the equipment between 2009 and 2012, and professor P. Sen.

The function was followed by a workshop on the equipment at the ISM’s Golden Jubilee Lecture Theatre.

“The cost of the equipment is around Rs 30 lakh,” said Dhiraj Kumar, adding that ISM, in collaboration with Hyderabad-based Jaybharat Equipment Pvt Ltd, has built as many as six of them.

Four of these are under trial and Bastacola colliery, while two others were released for industrial use on Friday.

On the advantages of the new equipment over the traditional system of using timber support, Dhiraj Kumar said SAGE has a closed height of 1850mm and an extended height of 3200. It can withstand weights up to 220 tonne and can be set up within a few minutes, as opposed to the longer installation time of traditional support systems.

At the workshop, Debnath lauded the ISM’s efforts in developing the equipment and suggested that the institute now test the products in different mining conditions.

Director of ISM D.C. Panigrahi, who also praised the efforts of professors U.K. Singh and Dhiraj Kumar, apprised the gathering about various other projects undertaken by the mining cradle.


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